With over 7,500 varieties worldwide, you might wonder what the best apples for applesauce are.
Luckily, this top ten list should help narrow it down!
I’ve loved applesauce since I was a kid, and now I love making my own.
But when it comes to the best apples for applesauce, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, you’ll need to decide how sweet or tart you want it.
Next, remember that some apples won’t be available all year, so you may need to change your recipe from summer to winter.
The good news is, there are no wrong answers! That said, I’ve rounded up ten apples that I think work best.
Try them and let me know what you think!
How to Choose the Best Apples for Applesauce
The biggest thing to consider when choosing an apple variety is the taste. Do you want super sour applesauce or something lightly sweet?
Once you’ve made that decision, be sure to look for apples that don’t usually hold up well to baking.
For example, Granny Smiths are ideal for pies, cakes, and apple crisp because they don’t turn to mush in the oven.
But for applesauce, you want it to turn to mush! So, I’ve listed varieties below that should cook down more readily.
That said, I’ve also included a couple of delicious options that won’t break down completely. Use those if you like chunky sauce!
Also, if the apple is soft, slightly bruised, or nicked, that’s okay. If they’ve been sitting for a few days, that’s okay too.
Obviously, if there’s any evidence of mold or parasites, don’t use that apple. But anything else is fair game.
Best Sweet Apples for Applesauce
1. Golden Delicious
Golden Delicious apples are one of the more popular varieties. Why, you ask? Well, it’s in the name – they’re delicious!
They’re yellow-green in color, with tender white flesh. They cook down beautifully, and they have a delicate sweetness.
Do you want to know the best part of using Golden Delicious apples? You don’t even have to peel them! The skin is thin and breaks down in the sauce.
Use Fuji apples if you don’t want to add sugar to your applesauce recipe.
These pretty orangey-red fruits are incredibly sweet and juicy. Biting into one tastes like taking a swig of apple juice.
These are a wonderful choice for a healthy sauce. Plus, the apple’s natural sweetness pairs perfectly with warm spices like cinnamon.
Honeycrisps are my favorite all-around apple.
They’re sweet, tart, floral, and complex. And while they’re best when they’re fresh, Honeycrisps make a super yummy sauce.
They don’t break down as much as some of the other varieties on this list. So, if thick and textured applesauce is your thing, Honeycrisps are the way to go.
Unfortunately, they can be on the expensive side. So, I recommend mixing them with other apples to save some moola.
What’s in a name? Well, in this case… a lot.
The Crispin apple is fabulously crispy, making it a fantastic choice for a chunky sauce.
Crispin apples also tend to be very sweet and juicy, so they’ll add a ton of flavor to your applesauce.
Best Tart Apples for Applesauce
5. Jonathan Apples
Like everything that comes from New York, Jonathan apples have some personality.
They’re pretty tart – just shy of reaching sour status – but they will definitely make your mouth water.
But even though they’re tart, they have a fantastic flavor. They make a super yummy sauce that is great alongside meat dishes, like pork chops.
Cortland apples are bright red with streaks of darker red and patches of yellow. Sometimes they’re more yellow than red, and sometimes, they have a greenish hue.
All in all, they’re quite pretty, and they’re delicious! They have a tart flavor, mellowed by some sweetness.
Needless to say, they make tart applesauce.
Cortland apples are also great for baking and serving with charcuterie since they’re highly acidic, so they don’t brown as quickly as sweeter varieties.
Gravenstein apples are absolutely delicious. They’re tart, but still have a reasonably sweet taste, reminiscent of honey.
Plus, they’re super juicy. And juicy apples make great applesauce!
Best Moderately-Sweet Apples for Applesauce
8. Granny Smith
I know, I know, I said not to use baking apples. But let’s be honest, you can’t beat Granny Smiths.
They’re the classic green apple that’re a little sour and a lot sweet. That’ll give you a perfectly balanced applesauce.
And yes, they won’t break down entirely (unless you use an immersion blender). But they will make a yummy, chunky sauce.
Though they’re not as sweet as some other apples, Jonagolds are deliciously saccharine.
They’re a cross between the Jonathan and the Golden Delicious apple varieties. These are best for thick, rustic-style applesauce.
McIntosh apples are another very popular applesauce variety. That’s because they cook down extremely well.
They’re a perfect apple for making sauce and taste amazing over salty, savory pork.
Plus, they have a balanced sweet and tart flavor, and you can leave the skins on if you like. Though I prefer it without.
Tips for Making the Best Applesauce
Applesauce can be used in so many ways, including over pancakes and waffles and in oatmeal and baked goods.
It’s also delicious with pork chops or tenderloin. And it makes a great snack on its own.
If you want to make the best possible applesauce, check out these tips:
- Use a variety of apples for a more flavorful and textural sauce! Pick a few sweet and a few sour, so you get a nice balance that’s not overwhelming. Plus, it makes the sauce more exciting!
- Peel, core, and chop the apples to speed up the process. You can do this the old-fashioned way, but if you plan to make applesauce a lot, invest in a peeler/corer – it’ll save you a ton of time.
- There are three fantastic ways to make applesauce – the stove, slow cooker, or Instant Pot. Each has its advantages. And they all will make your house smell AMAZING.
- Stove: This is the classic method that takes a bit of time and attention/stirring on your part.
- Slow Cooker: This is the easiest method since you can pretty much dump everything in the pot and forget about it.
- Instant Pot: This is by far the fastest method, and the sauce will be ready in less than 30 minutes.
- Add some lemon juice to keep the apples from browning. This also adds some much-needed acidity to balance the sauce.
- Season the sauce with sugar, spice, and everything nice. Even if you don’t want a ton of added sugar, you’ll need something to lift the fruity flavors (which can be bland on their own).
- Granulated sugar works fine, but brown sugar will bring a lovely caramel-like taste. Honey and maple syrup are also scrumptious.
- Use spices like cinnamon to change up the flavor and make it your own. Cardamom and ginger are also amazing.
- Be sure to taste the applesauce before adding any extra flavors to the mix. The apples will taste very different after cooking, and you may find it’s sweeter or tarter than you thought.
- In recipes with no added sugar at all, avoid using sour/tart apples. They may be overpowering without any sweeteners.
- Feel free to add other fruits to make new flavors or add sweetness. Strawberries, pears, or peaches are fantastic options.
- Make a big batch and freeze it for later! Applesauce will keep in the freezer indefinitely, but it’s best within two months.
- Store it in a freezer bag with the label and date.
- Store it in individual bags so you don’t have to thaw the whole thing.
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